October is a great month for migrating birds, including Arctic-breeding species either passing through on their way south or arriving to winter with us. They include Pink-footed Geese from Iceland and Greenland which have turned up in unprecedented numbers. Derek Forshaw, who has been organising goose counts for over 30 years, tells me that the Lancashire & North Merseyside count of Pinkfeet on 14th October was just over 46,000, of which 22,000 were on the Fylde. This is the second highest count ever in the region and the largest for October by a considerable margin. Many of these birds will soon be leaving us to feed on the harvested sugar-beet fields of Norfolk, before returning in the New Year.
Bird-watchers are also out and about this month looking for rare vagrants blown off course from their normal routes. As usual, the east coast scored most points, Brown Flycatcher and Red-flanked Bluetail at Flamborough Head being among the highlights, but Wirral also had more than its fair share of extreme rarities, with Radde’s Warbler and Blyth’s Reed Warbler. Martin Mere pitched in with a Great-grey Shrike in mid-month, while Marshside’s Glossy Ibis was present throughout, joined by an American Green-winged Teal from 14th and up to eight Little Egrets.
More prosaic were the 900 Coot and 188 Mute Swans I counted on Southport Marine Lake on 26th. The Marine Lake is actually one of the major haunts of these two birds in Northwest England. Can anyone beat the record counts here of 1299 Coot and 260 Mute Swans ?